Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

March 21, 2014

21st century overwhelm, beginning with shampoo

By Charlotte Shivvers
The Journal Express

---- — I was in a hurry and needed only one more item at the grocery store. Shampoo.

I wanted shampoo to wash my hair. But I found a hazard course – and couldn’t remember how I got through the last time. What should I do? Would it be simple “anti-itch liquid” or should I get the works, “2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner, Ocean Change”? Afraid of sea sickness, I moved on. Wrong way. I was in the men’s section. Would anyone care if I got shampoo “just for men” – for “light brown,” “medium brown,” or “dark brown.” Since there was no silver gray, I returned to the female shelves where I belonged.

I could get “dandruff shampoo” or “therapeutic shampoo” or “herbal essences touchably smooth.” Hmm. Who’s touching? Would my husband like that? There was “hello hydration” or lisses tante la journee” whatever that means. I liked “color me happy” more. But then I would deprive myself of “tealight fully clear hydralicious, self-targeting shampoo” – “tealightful” promised adventure, but “self-targeting” is too violent for my tender head.

Maybe “sleeker the beeker” or “none of your frizziness” or just plain “shine collection brilliance.” I liked the thought of “conditioner for a tousled look” – except I have a tousled look without shampoo. “Citrus mint” – but I’m not going to eat it. So maybe one of the B’s – “b-leve,” “b-refresher,” “b-tranquil,” or “b-voluptuous.” Overwhelmed by indecision I went on, only to find “b-hydrated” and “b-vibrant!” Decision was even tougher, so I tried another shelf: “pantene dry to moisturizer” or “tresemme – used by professionals, anti breakage, deep cleanser for hair prone to build-up.” Build up of what? Do I have it? Is it good or bad?

“Suave naturals longer lasting fragrance” – certainly I would want the fragrance to last – if I liked the fragrance. Maybe “damage care, 2X more moisturizing with 100% natural rosemary mint.” 2X more moisturizing than what? Drowning might be a serious risk though with all that moisturizing.

Ah, here’s one for health: “technique, silky, shiny, smooth pro-vitamin shampoo.” No need to take vitamins anymore. Even better, there’s “silky experiences 5 essential vitamins.” But as long as it’s like eating, this one sounded best: “Nourishing coconut milk shampoo.”

Wanting to get away, I realized that international would be good, and cheaper than travel, “Aussie, opposites attract.” Or “L’Oreal Paris, vive pro color vive hi gloss shampoo.”

I’ll bet you’re wondering what I selected. I didn’t. I hadn’t covered half the choices when my head hurt so bad, I settled for two aspirin and skipped shampoo. But I do wash my hair occasionally, and you can guess which shampoo I selected. Look close next time you see me. Am I all calm and tranquilized from “b-tranquil”? Or frizzier than usual because I didn’t choose “none of your frizziness.” Or is it a healthy look glowing after those “5 essential vitamins” – and from having escaped a deep pool of moisturizer.

These are all quotations – sloppy perhaps – from the shampoo department at my favorite HyVee. I could probably have enlarged the selection with a trip to my favorite Fareway.

My questions for today: Are we crazy? Are we brilliant? Are we so lost in our choices that we don’t even know? If you think shampoo is bad, try cereal, or telephones, or international relations. We’ve come a long way from the essentials. Perhaps we need help focusing more than we need new diversions. Stay tuned.